Mass exodus from town for Pope’s visit

There was a mass exodus of people from Lurgan down south in 1979 for the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Thousands of men, woman and children made the trek to Drogheda, Galway and Knock.

At least 15 buses were hired to take pilgrims to Knock and a special train was commissioned for the trip to Drogheda.

Over 500 young people from the town travelled to Galway for a special mass for youth.

Shopkeepers throuhgout North Lurgan too were cashing in with special commemorative flags, pictures and other mementoes.

Jimmy McKeown, of the Handy Stores in North Street, reported selling over 100 flags in one weekend.

Hundreds more posters and pictures were also snapped up.

“I’ve never known anything like it,” he said. “You would almost think the Pope was coming to Lurgan.”

Streets in Lurgan were bedecked with flags and streamers, with some areas taking on an almost carnival atmosphere.